August 31, 2014

Rector’s Reflection

If you have traveled up US 49 to Jackson in the last few months (is there a way to get to Jackson from Hattiesburg that doesn’t involve at least a part of 49?), you may have noticed some construction on the northbound side next to the Fred’s in Florence. Just the site prep seemed to take forever and as the building began to rise from the ground, it became clear that this was going to be a huge – big-enough-to-fit-all-the-cows-in-central-Mississippi huge – barn. But why? There was no ‘coming soon’ sign anywhere around. A silo was built and most recently a windmill was added… and a sign! Welcome to the new Berry’s Seafood and Catfish Restaurant.

Now I understand about farm-raised catfish, but I can’t imagine driving past a barn and saying, “Wow, I bet I can get some stellar shrimp in that place.” It doesn’t look like what it is.

Earlier this week I came across an article that talked about “Business Babble Bingo.” Here is an example which the article’s author cited.

“I just got back from coffee with a thought leader. He was kind enough to open the kimono a bit about his new book. As you know, unicorns are his core competency, and he seems to think there are some new things coming down the pike. I think my team should start a dialogue with your team about it. I want to make sure we can utilize both our strengths to address the changes since we both have a lot we can leverage. It might even be good to get in a room and whiteboard it all out so we both have a chance to ideate together. If we really want to take it to the next level, we could put our learnings together into a presentation for the CEO so we can stay a best-in-breed company amid our industry’s shifting paradigms. Anyway, don’t want to boil the ocean here. Just want to set us up to move the needle. I’m out of pocket the next two weeks, but feel free to noodle on it while I’m gone. We’ll punt it until I get back and I’ll just ping you then so we can circle back on all this.”

Uh… yeah…

Now you may wonder why I have written about a barn and babbling. Well… from a church point of view, each of these is instructive.

First, we need to look like what we are. Of course our buildings and grounds look like what we are. I can’t imagine that anyone driving by would wonder what sort of business we were in. But beyond that, we – the inhabitants of the buildings – need to look like what we are, and what we are are children of God. We are loved and we are valued and therefore we love and we value those whom we meet. We have joy in the Lord and we need to look joyous. We are to care for one another because we have been cared for.

Second, we need to be clear about who we are. We’ve been studying the 39 Articles in Sunday School and I have mentioned that some of the words are either archaic or have changed meanings over the last couple of hundred years. But being clear about who we are is more than using contemporary language. It is about proclaiming that we believe Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God, that we believe the received apostolic faith, and that Jesus Christ is THE way, THE truth, and THE life, not a way or a truth or a life.

It is important that the meal people are fed here is true soul food, and that the words they hear are actually helpful. Otherwise we will just add to the confusion that seems so common in today’s world.